‘Atleti must treat final like it’s last’

Koke has urged his Atletico Madrid teammates to treat their Champions League final against Real Madrid “as if it were our last”.

Atlleti are in with a chance of avenging their 4-1 defeat to Real in Lisbon two years ago when they travel to Milan for a rematch, and Koke believes his side are better prepared in 2016 as they have enjoyed more rest due to no final-day drama in La Liga.

“The entire coaching staff have prepared us to reach our best form,” the midfielder said at a Press conference on Atleti’s media day.

“We have more preparation time than we did Lisbon. That year, we played a final against Barcelona [on the last day of the season in La Liga] and were tired from it. This year, we’re better physically.

“Things have changed [since 2014]. Two years have passed, and I think we have to defend better and take advantage of their mistakes because there’s very little room for error in games like these.

“We’ve spent two weeks preparing for the final, but we’ve done well and we’re at ease. We’re training with desire, and in the final week [of build-up], that’s when you’re most focused.

“[On Juanfran and Filipe Luis], when we push up, they give us superiority and that helps us.

“[Marcelo] attacks a lot. He has great quality and is one of the best at Madrid, so we’ll see how we stop him.

“[Madrid’s] strengths are in defence and on the counterattack. They’ve greatly improved with Casemiro in midfield.

“They’re a great team, so we’ll watch videos to find out what their weaknesses are.

“I’m no more nervous than my teammates, but we have to treat the final as if it were our last. If we win, we’ll have that feeling we’ve grown up of dreaming of and feel bigger [than we thought we’d be].

“It would be great for all the fans who can’t go to Milan to be with us [in our final week of training], but it’s not up to me. The fans always support us from anywhere in the world.

“You never know [on who will win the CL]. Whether we take the initiative or that the game is tighter, it’s one game and you never know what can happen…”

Tags Koke